Well, it’s that end of term rush and pretty much the entirety of my world is based on papers, one after another, and for the life of me I couldn’t justify spending any superfluous time at the computer. Especially since Shawn and I are negotiating an agreeable timetable for each of our computer needs. One of the major downfalls of having two computer literate (and dependent) people in the house and one laptop that is having a coronary over all of the use it is currently getting. The laptop is really quite upset at us, can’t blame it really, it went from the random last minute papers every couple of months to use every day, and the creation of major databases. I’d be upset too! Anyhow, enough about computer abuse, how ‘bout them Scots?
The flat we have is working out wonderfully, comfy, cozy, and that television is insight into their culture that we were definitely missing out on. The down side of the place is location, while we may not be any further from the University, we are no longer quite so centrally located, which is nice because its quieter, but not because we are a long walk from the store, the bank, and pretty much everything we had become so used to walking around the corner to accomplish. Of course, the local pub is still easily located. Even the walk to school is not quite as easy, actually its evil, its uphill both ways!!! Backwards, barefoot, in twenty feet of snow, in the pouring rain, in the middle of a blizzard, for twenty miles… and we were grateful! Ooops, sorry, parent flashback. The walk does have some truly evil hills, though!
Anyhow, on the actual academic side of things, as I said term is ending and most everyone is running in circles trying to get everything done in time. Myself included, I have two essays due this week and they are written but not quite right. Speaking of essays…I was finally given one back! Heh heh, I received a 72, and when it was handed to me I sat there and thought to myself..”alright, I was warned bout this. That’s not a bad grade, I don’t think. I think it’s a good grade. Actually I’m pretty sure it’s a good grade. What grade is it?” Well I had to look it up on my handy dandy reference thingy for their grading system and it is a flat A by THEIR standanrds! I’m very pleased. I was worried that my bs-ing ability during my previous 3 years would hinder my ability to write a somewhat informed paper. My professor was very impressed; in fact, she told me a pretty funny story. You see, she went to get her Ph.D at Harvard and while working on her doctorate she taught a course, required an essay, and went home and graded them all. Yes, you can see this coming, she graded on the British system and this poor class! The highest grade was in the 70s and most everyone else 50 or 60,…gave the entire class a coronary! There was such an outburst that she had to recollect them and have a colleague translate. That must have been an eye opener for everyone involved!
On to more lively topics like eating…errr…Thanksgiving, that is. Well, I’m sure most of you are aware that it’s not a holiday celebrated over here. So we had our own pseudo thanksgiving, which didn’t in the least involve that poor turkey. It’s amazing that they are not an endangered species. Although around Thanksgiving and Christmas they probably feel like it! Nope, for our holiday we terrorized a local cow, well, not personally we didn’t, we got the meat from the market. Come on, I’m in Scotland, not the South where the hobby of cow tipping is so prevalent. Nope, nope, we are in the country where the men are men and the sheep are scared. That’s us! Back to that dinner… we had a Taco day instead of a Turkey day. I know most of you think we are nuts, but, well, Mexican is both insanely expensive over here and probably not what we would consider Mexican. If American Mexican food is referred to as blue-eyed Mexican, what would Scottish Mexican be called? Anyway, we made a truly Mexican meal, homemade and very tasty! We also invited Elisa over for dinner, now she is a story in herself!
When I asked her if she wanted to join us for thanksgiving she had a momentary blank look and then something clicked and said “turkey and stuff, yeah?” She said the picture that she conjured for the holiday was a cooked turkey wearing a pilgrim hat next to a red Indian. She has personality that’s for sure. Anyhow, after explaining the holiday in general, I had to explain that we weren’t doing the traditional meal, we were doing Mexican. Interestingly enough, she has had very little experience with Mexican and we had to identify a number of things which you would never think such as taco shells, tortilla chips, and tortillas. Then she thought that the sour cream we had out was yogurt. The clash of the cultures, huh? We also spotted brie in the market when shopping for Thanksgiving and decided that would be a great appetizer. So before our not so traditional Taco day, we had brie and bread, which Elisa had never experienced either. Deprived woman! She looked at it for a while and repeated after us with that suspicious look “that’s cheese?” When she finally braved that first bite she practically melted into the chair, once she finished chewing she popped right back to life and had another. This continued until the three of us had all but devoured the entire thing, and this was no little triangle, larger than most. Dinner was just as enjoyable and we made a Mexican fan of a person who lives somewhere where it doesn’t really exist, how cruel is that?
On the travelling side of things we visited Sterling this last weekend, saw the jail with an actor for a tour guide. This one guy took on about six different personalities in the span of twenty minutes, and I thought my friends had multiple personality problems! Whatever the case, he definitely interacted with the group, actually scared a lot of them and complained constantly about “colonials.” Then he up and decides to pick on Shawn and starts referring to him as ‘monkey boy’ which is ironic as many people at home call him that. My mother was however very indignant about the idea when I told her, repeatedly saying, “I don’t see the resemblance.” Then we hiked up to the castle, which was monstrous and old and beautiful. You know how you read all those books that describe the size of a castle, the feeling of the stone, the draftiness, the smell of age and dirt, the defenses and you have to imagine it because in your mind something like that could not possibly still exist. Well, it does and strangely enough, what you imagine is likely very close to what it is. Mostly cold and stone, but breathtaking in its immensity and the feeling and smell of age is unmistakable. In royal chambers everything is elaborate and gigantic…Shawn and I have slept in tents smaller than their fireplaces! It’s kind of surreal, yet it’s so old that it’s more realistic than most of the buildings in San Francisco.
While there we purchased these handy dandy little cards that would let us into 60 such attractions
including Edinburgh castle and of course back to Sterling. There is no way we could have seen
everything in one shot even if we had a whole day, luckily we have the majority of year…perhaps we’ll
manage by then. Next weekend we have a car rented, that should be a very entertaining story in
itself…our first experience on driving on the wrong side of the road. Stay to the left, stay to the left, stay to the left… Then there was the other interesting movie experience. Ever feel like you are traveling back in time? I do, here, on a regular basis. This time we went to the bigger theater that is downtown. The place was packed and they shuffled everyone through quickly. When we purchased tickets, we were told they only had seats in first two rows. That wasn’t that strange of a thing to hear, it happens at home, however, once we said we didn’t care he printed out tickets, with row and seat numbers. To catch you up, cuz I would be really confused if it hadn’t happened to me, they were assigned seats and he knew for a fact that only the front two rows were available! Odd. Shawn and I kinda raised our eyebrows at each other, shrugged it off, we are in a foreign country after all and moved on. Once in the theater there were two ushers on either side, who took you tickets and escorted you right to your seat, flashlight and all! Accckkk. This is pushing that strangeness threshold. Anyhow, now we are seated, relaxing, trying to shake off the oddities of the last five minutes, it goes dark, the curtain is pulled (which is apparently a standard feature here) and the, errr, commercials begin?! We went through cell phones, alcoholic beverages, candies, clothes, the whole shebang. Once they had gotten that out of their system…fifteen minutes later…the previews began equally lasting fifteen or so minutes and finally after much ado we made it to the feature presentation. Very, very interesting. I think I’ll form an opinion about it once I’ve accepted it actually happened. By the way, the movie we saw was Charlie’s Angels, which just came out here and it was quite fun, silly, and lots of sex appeal doing impressive fighting moves. A movie a friend of mine adequately described as the Matix’s teenage sister.
Is it a bad sign that I have this undeniable urge to relay to you the antics of television on this side of the ocean? I can’t see how it’s a good thing. Let’s see, we ran into Jerry Springer over here, in fact, he is literally over here, in London. And it’s not the kind of tear him apart with your bare hands show he was running in the states. Rather he is a kind of demented version of Jay Leno. Sitting pretty behind a desk interviewing guests and making fun of the news. That was just plain odd. Last night with Jerry Springer was the lead singer of Soft Cell, for those of you who don’t know he was a popular artist of the
80’s. Anyway at some point they got to the interrelations of all the artists of the 80’s and the guy, whose name I can’t remember, described it as “handbags at fifty paces. What an image! Other than that, the advertisements are just wrong, but we like them, lots of nudity and innuendo. The shows range from relatively mellow to just plain strange. The strange side was something privy to mad tv or Saturday night live, only in exceptionally thick Scottish accents and lots of humour that flies right over our heads. Maybe we’ll get the joke by the end of the year. They also have an amazing amount of quiz shows, one that’s on late at night is called 100 percent sex. Which is literally 100 questions about sex asked in about 30 minutes. Some seriously obscure questions, needless to say our useless knowledge is skyrocketing.
Well, I would have to say that about covers it for the moment. I do have lots of vernacular this time. Actually I misinformed you last time, misunderstood the Scots accent….on the duff is actually UP the duff. Still doesn’t make an ounce of sense, but this time I have it right. Anything labelled toffee over here is actually caramel. A slang term for a promiscuous woman is a slapper, whoa what an image, huh? Bogin means gross and curvy bits…well you can figure that one out. They also have this affection for the terminology of “a bit,” as in “a year and a bit,” “a bottle and a bit,” “a pound and a bit.” You get the idea.